This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Andrea Thomas, whose daughter has eczema from 2 months old and shares how she manages finding childcare for her daughter. Andrea is the founder of ScratchMeNot mitten sleeves, and a return guest on my blog (you can read her mompreneur journey here.) Marcie Mom: Hi Andrea, thanks for taking part in my 2013 blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Despite the busyness of your thriving business! Share with us a little on the severity of your daughter’s eczema and at what level of manageability was her eczema at when you’re considering alternative childcare for her?
Andrea: Thank you for a chance to participate in this series! My daughter’s eczema started off with a few red patches on her elbows, knees and face at 2 months. It quickly spread to half of her face, scalp, calves, feet and arms. She was scratching at any chance she could get and I could not let her out of my sight.
Around 5 months old, I decided to stay home, instead of return to work so I could care for her. This was partially because I didn’t want to miss her baby milestones, but also because I was not sure a daycare would have the time to tend to her skin regimen. I took on the challenge to figure out what was causing her eczema. Her pediatrician & dermatologist both agreed that it was not food allergies. I later figured out that she was allergic to a few foods that was the cause of her eczema. I figured this out through an elimination diet. From there, I was then able to reduce symptoms and itching. And if I wanted to place her in childcare, I could, knowing her eczema would be manageable.
Marcie Mom: What would you say are some options available to you when you’re considering childcare? Preschool/ babysitter/ au pair? And what made you decide on the one you’ve settled on?
Andrea: I was considering daycare because I wanted my daughter to be around children her age and enjoy a play and learn schedule away from mommy and daddy. I looked into several locations and choose a daycare within our church. It provided her with some consistency with teachers and staff, and they had a plan for anaphylactic emergencies that may arise from accidental food ingestion that requires immediate attention. They were also a Nut-Free facility, which was important to me because this is her most severe allergen. I also gave them a Food Allergy Action Plan and went over it with them step by step. When she started daycare, her eczema was under control so the staff would not have to attend to her itchy skin, only focus on her food allergies.
Marcie Mom: Do share with us what are the planning required before you entrust your daughter with eczema to another caregiver.
Andrea: When I was beginning to consider childcare, I had no idea where to start, what questions to ask or how allergies and eczema care was typically handled. I did research online to determine how food allergies are typically handled within childcare, and came up with a list of questions of my own to ask. I found out there were procedures and forms, including the Food Allergy Action Plan which gives detailed instructions on when to use the Epi-Pens for allergies, how to designate which food allergies she has and anaphylactic emergencies. Some childcare services are willing to create procedures with you for additional needs such as a skin care regimen, daily medicine for eczema.
I also gave them a list of symptoms to look for if she comes across any foods that could trigger her eczema, as well as anaphylactic reactions. Since my daughter’s eczema was under control, the daycare staff did not have to apply her creams or provide daily medication. I was able to continue with my home skin care regimen. However, in the event my daughter began scratching, she wore protective clothing that her teacher could easily flip closed to prevent her scratching from damaging her skin. I made sure she also wore clothing to deter scratching, like onesies, long socks and jeans. Sometimes she scratched out of habit or self-soothing, not necessarily because she is itchy.
Marcie Mom: One final question – what communication tips would you give to another parent in the US?
Andrea: ASK QUESTIONS! As many as you need to feel comfortable leaving your child in with any childcare facility or person. Some of the staff have never dealt with allergies and reactions before, but know how to administer medicine or Epi-Pens. It’s important to talk to them as if they have never dealt with an allergic reaction or eczema before. This will allow you to be as detailed and thorough as possible. One more thing is to listen to your gut instincts, if you do not feel comfortable with staff, a daycare facility, nanny or babysitter, try another one. It’s important that both you and your child feel comfortable and safe!
Marcie Mom: Thank you Andrea for sharing your journey managing your girl’s eczema and finding the right childcare for her, am sure many parents can identify with this!